Monteverde is a small town located in Costa Rica’s Cordillera de Tilarán region. Monteverde is a place of cloud forests and coffee plantations, monkeys, mist, and friendly locals. The town of Santa Elena is small and quaint, filled with tasty restaurants and folksy artisan shops, while the nearby rainforest hosts a remarkable amount of biodiversity.
This backpackers guide to Monteverde covers things to do in Monteverde and other travel tips.
Things to do in Monteverde
If you love the outdoors, you will love Monteverde. There is plenty of things to do in Monteverde, Costa Rica, but lots of the options aren’t so friendly on the backpacker budget. Don’t worry though, I made sure to throw in some free activities.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of the most famous cloud forests in the world, and for good reasons. The impressive tropical cloud forest has a rich ecosystem with over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 120 species of reptiles and over 3000 plant species. Everywhere you look is a vibrant shade of green and if you look hard enough you are guaranteed to see animals. Within the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, you will find a hanging bridge and waterfall. Entry is $18 or $9 with a student card. See more photos here.
Santa Elena Cloud Forest
This cloud forest is much like Monteverde Cloud Forest but cheaper and has fewer tourists. Santa Elena costs $14 or $7 for students. Because it is quieter, it is said that you can spot wildlife easier in Santa Elana Cloud Forest.
There are many companies offering Zip Lining tours in Monteverde. All zip line tours cost roughly the same amount ($45). 100% adventure has the longest zip lines at 1.6kms long and is said to be the most extreme.
I went with Extremo Canopy as I combined my zip line with a bungee jump (total cost $100). I absolutely loved the zip line tour and would highly recommend it. With Extremo Canopy we did a 90ft repel, (below) Tarzan swing and superman cable.
Have you been wanting to take the jump? I wanted to bungee jump for years and finally faced my fears in Monteverde and absolutely loved it. For $60, why don’t you just go for it? Extremo Canopy is the Bungee Jump Company.
In Santa Elena/Monteverde you will find a bat jungle and butterfly garden. If you have a spare day and this sounds like something you are interested in, you can check it out for a small fee.
Visit the hanging bridges in Selvatura Park
This is the place for all you Instagrammers out there. Selvatura Park has over 30 suspension bridges so there will be no shortage of photo opportunities. As you explore the park you will see and hear plenty of crickets, insects, howler monkeys and birds.
Coffee Plantation Tours
Costa Rica is well known for its coffee, so why not go on a coffee tour. This is one of the more relaxed adventures to try in Monteverde.
Monteverde is a bird watchers paradise. For the best chances of spotting rare birds, such as the Quetzal, it is recommended to hire a guide.
Get adventurous in Monteverde
If you have some spare cash to spend in Monteverde, you could try horseback Riding, white water rafting, tree climbing, canyoning and ATV tours. You can also tour chocolate and cheese factories.
Book a tour in Monteverde
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Recommended length of stay in Monteverde
I recommend staying in Monteverde for 3 nights.
Currency in Monteverde
US Dollars or Costa Rican Colons are accepted.
Getting to and around Monteverde
If you are coming from overseas, you would fly into San Jose airport. From San Jose, you can take a 5-hour bus ride to Monteverde.
Getting to Monteverde from Panama or Nicaragua is challenging, as it is an isolated community with bad roads. If you are coming from Panama, you will have to go via San Jose, catching a bus from there to Monteverde. Coming from Nicaragua, you will have to take a bus from the border to a town called Limonal, and another bus from there to Monteverde.
Santa Elena is the community of Monteverde and is where you will find accommodation (Santa Elena is the cheapest place to stay). You can walk everywhere in Santa Elena. To get to Santa Elena Cloud Forest and Monteverde Cloud Forest, you can catch a public bus for around $2 one way.
Hostels in Monteverde
I stayed at Vista Al Golfo hostel, located right in the centre of town. Vista Al Golfo was clean, had a kitchen and free breakfast. Overall it was good, and it has an information centre inside.
Search for cheap accommodation options here.
Travel Insurance for Monteverde
Safety in Monteverde
The town of Santa Elena felt relatively safe, but there are some safety precautions I recommend exercising:
- Avoid flashing your valuables
- Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
- Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
- Remain aware of your surrounding
- Avoid unknown streets at night
- Don’t drink too much
Language in Costa Rica
The official language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Limited locals will speak English.
Vaccinations for Costa Rica
Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when backpacking to Costa Rica. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Costa Rica, I recommend consulting a doctor.
Packing for a trip to Monteverde
Some essentials I recommend packing for Monteverde are:
- A zoom lens – to get close up photos of the wildlife.
- Sunscreen and insect repellant.
- A rain jacket and warm clothes – this part of Costa Rica gets cold.
- A good book.
Overseas Travel Checklist
Pin – Backpackers Guide to Monteverde
Disclosure: This post on things to do in Monteverde contains affiliate links.